Many Northern Ireland hauliers choose to operate the Scania V8. With 16 of them in his fleet, Richard McConaghy is no exception
1st April 2022
"We are a team of dedicated logistic professionals who always do the right thing for our customers and their consignments. Our aim is to be the best.”
Those are the opening words that greet visitors to the website of Ballymoney, County Antrim-based McConaghy Refrigerated Distribution Limited. The statement is signed off personally by the company's Managing Director, Richard McConaghy, who 25 years ago decided to give up driving for others and go out on his own.
"I obtained my Certificate of Professional Competence and an Operator's Licence and started out with a single truck, a rigid," remembers Richard. "While I did the driving, my wife Jacki looked after the admin behind the scenes. Things went well for us, and a year later we were able to move into our current site, increase the fleet to three vehicles and employ two drivers. Five years later, we were up to eight trucks and ten employees."
Today, McConaghy Refrigerated Distribution operates a fleet of 24 high specification vehicles, operates 365 square metres of chilled and ambient storage space, and has invested in state-of-the-art technology, including a remotely controlled tracking system which ensures full traceability of every consignment from collection to delivery.
"It's been quite a ride," says Richard. "While we have faced some challenging times along the way, we have nonetheless managed to grow the business considerably over the years. When people ask me how we've done that, I always say the key to our success is having good people around us."
Included in that number today are Richard and Jacki's two children, daughter Lauren, who holds a Certificate of Professional Competence and works as General Manager in the transport office, and son Gavin, a C+E licence holder who drives and is also involved in maintenance and compliance.
Gavin is among the drivers who pilots one of the firm's 16 Scania V8s. "If I'm honest, he's had Scania in his blood since he was about six months old," laughs Richard. "He's always been around them, and he's worked in the yard since he was a boy. He couldn't wait to get his licence, and like all our other V8 drivers, he loves them. What can you say about the Scania V8? – it's the truck everybody wants to drive isn't it?"
That comment certainly holds true in Northern Ireland, which has long been a key V8 market for Scania. Launched in 1969, the V8 was soon being specified by operators in the Province for its ability to keep journey times to a minimum by maintaining a high average speed over the countries hilly terrain and roads which at the time were often narrow and twisty.
It didn't take long for the V8 engine to earn its 'King of the Road' reputation. For operators, there was the pride of owning a true flagship model truck which not only stood out from the crowd but also delivered efficiency in operation and commanded excellent residual values. For drivers, it was all about prestige and performance. So much so, in fact, that a saying sprung up among potential driving job candidates in Northern Ireland: "No Vee, No Me", they would say to prospective employers!
Richard McConaghy can understand why: "The V8 is a fantastic engine, it's got all the power and performance you could ever ask for, and the Scania cab…well, it's just excellent. Today, we add fridges and microwaves to ours because our drivers spend nights out and we like to give them the very best to make life on the road as comfortable for them as we possibly can."
McConaghy Refrigerated Distribution purchases its trucks from Scania's Larne-based dealer for Northern Ireland, Road Trucks Limited. Each vehicle is kept for five
years and to ensure it is maintained in first-class order, Richard McConaghy extends the trucks' standard three-year repair and maintenance contracts to a full five years.
"I need to have the peace of mind that comes with having my trucks properly maintained by Scania," explains Richard. "Our pledge to our customers is that we always deliver, and we do. But we couldn't promise that if our fleet was not reliable, and to achieve that there is no substitute today for the kind of premium quality service only a manufacturer's main agent can offer.
"Trucks are so complex today. They are literally full of computers and other technology, and with software updates being released all the time, you must take the vehicle to a main dealer if it is to be kept in top condition. I cannot see any alternative to that.
"The service we get from Road Trucks is nothing short of exceptional. The team there look after us really well, nothing is too much trouble. Another bonus is that there is a branch of Scania Truck Rental at Road Trucks' premises, and we avail ourselves of their services too. The work we do – full loads transported throughout the island of Ireland and over to the UK, plus groupage from the UK back to Ireland – naturally has peaks and troughs. Scania Truck Rental helps us meet the peaks by providing an instant solution to our needs. Like our own trucks, the rental vehicles are also well looked after by Road Trucks, so we are very satisfied with the service all round. In fact, we took one vehicle from Scania Truck Rental six months or so ago, and it is doing such a good job for us it hasn't gone back yet!"
A postscript to McConaghy Refrigerated Distribution's relationship with Scania is that the company is soon to take delivery of its first 500 S model. "That vehicle will have a 13-litre straight six-engine," says Richard. "As such, it's going to be the only non-V8 Scania in the fleet. We are looking to trial it as a fleet truck and it will run mostly in Ireland. While we are a committed Scania V8 operator, it's going to be very interesting to see how this one compares."